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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Civil War Stories

There are plenty of civil war stories bouncing around. Civil War pension records were filed in the county where the soldier died. Although the applications contain very little service information, they do give provide the dates of births, deaths and marriages. Sketchy accounts of what occurred during war time, battles the soldier fought in, sickness, furloughs are included. You can piece together battles by reading these old pensions because they reveal units, battles, imprisonments, relatives who fought side by side, and so on. But to more fully comprehend the times, you need a chronology of the battles. During my childhood (the 40's) I recall that there were several old soldiers still alive who were given notoriety on their 100th birthday. What a treat we had then of reading in the Atlanta Journal of their experiences. Also, only three generations from the war, our grandmothers were still telling the stories. My grandmother recounted the stories as though they'd happened only yesterday. As a child she'd spent her summer vacations on the old Davis Smith plantation in Brent (Monroe County). The house still stood and she had fond memories of playing in the swept dirt lane which led to the house from the road. The lane was lined with cedar trees. It was the ticking watch story that she told again and again. It seems that Davis Smith had cancer during the war; all of his sons were off to war and he was at home with his third wife and daughters. Although Shermans' army did travel a direct path through the county after they had burned Atlanta, yankee scavenger patrols were sent out to forage the land for food and other valuables. One such patrol was seen approaching the house. Davis Smith, afraid for his life, scurried up a tree to hide. As luck would have it, the yankees stopped their horses under that tree. The frightened Smith heard the loud ticking of his gold pocket watch. The yankee's left without seeing him! There are a few diaries to be found in libraries, but for the most part the good stories have been lost to this generation. It is up to us to recount them to our grandchildren and to give them a more realistic foundation of that heritage.

Jeannette Holland Austin, author of over 100 genealogy books
Georgia Pioneers

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